Shameik Moore
Credit: Sarah Balch for

A few weeks ago, Shameik Moore swung by the InStyle New York offices, with his mom in tow, to discuss his Sundance Film Festival smash hit Dope, which hits theaters this week in select cities. The Atlanta native stars as geeky-but-lovable outcast Malcolm, a brilliant high schooler with aspirations to go to Harvard. However, after a night of chance encounters at a local party and a mix-up with a backpack toting a gun and drugs, his life takes an unexpected new direction. With his BFFs Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori) and some help from pothead Will Sherwood (Blake Anderson), he sets out to overcome the circumstances he’s in to make sure his chances are not jeopardized at Harvard.

We saw it and we loved it. But Moore will be the one to convince you of that. See below for his top four reasons you should see Dope. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

1. It’s relatable.

“I feel like this movie’s really relatable, and it gives you a different perspective on something that everybody has seen before multiple times. We’ve seen Friday. We’ve seen Boys in the Hood. But this is a totally different view. It just makes it clear how a kid can get into a lot of bad situations just based on his environment, even though he’s a really good kid. Everything can be misconstrued. ... You really meet people like these characters, like Chanel Iman who plays Lily or A$AP Rocky’s character, Dom the drug dealer. There are really people out there like that. And even Malcolm, the geek who’s in his environment and doesn’t really fit in.”

2. The chemistry you see on screen is real.

“I loved that the energy and the chemistry of the cast. It’s clear through the screen that we actually have relationships. But also, it’s a real situation. Everything about the movie Dope is real artistry, and everybody put their full hearts and souls into it. It’s a passion project, it’s not one of those things everybody got paid a million dollars to do. Everybody on there wanted to do it. Everybody there believed in the project, and we just went for it. We all love each other.”

3. Pharrell’s behind the soundtrack.

“Pharrell worked on the whole soundtrack for the movie. It’s sounds like N.E.R.D. A lot of people have been missing that from Pharrell, that N.E.R.D. sound, and these are all N.E.R.D. records that he wrote 20 years ago that fit perfectly for the movie. My vocals are on the soundtrack. For the song “Don’t Get Deleted,” Pharrell wrote it and demo'ed it, then we heard it and recorded it. We were done in two days. We recorded a few records. It was dope [laughs].” Listen to the song “Don’t Get Deleted” by Awreeoh, the band Moore’s in as Malcolm in the movie here:

4. It’s changed his life … already.

“Overall, I am so thankful I don’t even know how to express it anymore because I say it so much. I am genuinely happy and I feel so blessed. I’m living on this positive mind frame where I’m only attracting positive things. I’m controlling my energy, I’m eating right, I’m meditating, I’m in the gym, I’m doing all this stuff I’m supposed to be doing. I’m past that young, immature way of thinking. I just want to be great. I’m diving into who I really am and finding the answers within myself.”

Check out Dope in theaters starting Friday, June 19. Watch a trailer here: